November 10, 2000

Cal State San Marcos receives national grant to continue study of migrant worker health and education issues

Researchers will be able to track the health and educational development of young migrant children, thanks to a grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services. The $45,000, one-year grant is a supplemental research component to a larger, long-term study at Children's Hospital to survey the care of vulnerable children. The newly funded project brings together researchers from Cal State San Marcos' National Latino Research Center, San Diego State University's Imperial Valley Campus and the Center for Child Health Outcomes at Children's Hospital and Health Center.

"The intention of this supplemental grant is to track children of migrant parents from pre-kindergarten through upper grades and see the long effects of Head Start, economic inequalities, health and education," says Dr. Ronald Mize, Associate Director of the NLRC. He is joined in the project by Dr. Donna Castañeda at SDSU/Imperial Valley and Dr. Michael Seid at Children's Hospital.

The supplemental grant will enable researchers to study the health-related quality of life for pre-kindergarten children of migrant workers in Head Start programs in north San Diego County and Imperial Valley. Mize says his team will interview the parents of approximately 400 children. "We will interview parents about issues such as access to health care and where their children are with regard to child developmental levels," he says. "This grant will enable us to conduct a longitudinal survey to track students beginning in the pre-kindergarten years and then see how issues such as education, economics and other factors affect the children as they grow," Mize explains. In the long term, Mize says the researchers hope to track the children through the end of high school. Initial study findings will be presented to Children's Hospital to include in its larger study, which looks at health-related quality of life issues for 4,300 children, K-12, in four language groups (English, Spanish, Vietnamese and Tagalog).

"Children perform better academically when they're healthy," says Michael Seid, principal investigator of the Children's Hospital study. "This research could prove to be a catalyst for school districts nationwide wishing to improve the health of their students, as well as their academic potential." The larger study utilizes the Pediatric Quality of Life Instrument, PedsQL, which measures children's health-related quality of life and was developed by James W. Varni, Ph.D. at Children's Hospital Center for Child Health Outcomes.

According to Mize, NLRC has a specific mission designed to provide information on issues focusing on Latino populations. The four divisions within NLRC handle services, research, training and data dissemination. The NLRC promotes increase research and training of researchers who are studying Latino populations. The Center has a national scope that addresses all Latino subgroups, including Mexican-Americans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Central and South Americans. The Center is committed to areas such as health, mental health, education, social issues, housing, labor and employment, and immigration.

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